Flute or piccolo to begin with?

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings

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musicaldad
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Flute or piccolo to begin with?

Post by musicaldad »

Please help me resolve conflicting advice!

My petite daughter wanted to learn the flute. The first tip I was given was: learn the piccolo instead. The second, and more compelling, argument was "the piccolo and flute are _not_ the same, she should learn the flute." So, I got her a flute; she can play B, A, G and C, but now, when she has to learn Bb and F, her right hand cannot reach the keys.

Should I have got the piccolo? Should I try to find alternative fingerings on the flute? Should she give up the flute until she grows a bit? Any other advice would be welcome. Thank you.

Other info: she's had four lessons, now I'm helping her to learn using tutor books and videos from the internet (I play the clarinet).

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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper »

First, it's generally not a good idea to start a beginner on piccolo. While this is not an absolute, the piccolo has a lot of challenges even for mature players, so the flute is usually a better choice for beginners.

If your daughter is too small for her right hand to properly reach the RH keys, then there are two alternatives:
1 - Wait until she is large enough to reach the RH keys
2 - Get a curved head flute which is specifically designed for smaller children

Here's an example of a curved head flute. Please note that this is not a recommendation to buy one there, but simply an example so that you know what to look for. Most good music stores sell or can get a curved head flute for you.
http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/i ... dhead.html

I would advise visiting a local music store and have her try a curved flute to see if it will work for her. I cannot recommend buying sight-unseen from the internet in this case. If a curved flute will allow her to position the lip plate at her mouth and simultaneously reach the RH keys, then it would be a good option. If she still cannot comfortably reach the RH keys, then she should wait until she grows a bit.

You mentioned that she has had some lessons; I am surprised that the teacher did not suggest a curved head flute. Is her teacher a fully qualified professional flute instructor?
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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Fox
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Post by Fox »

You're right the piccolo is not the same as a flute. I've been thinking of starting on piccolo, but everything I've read says it's quite different from playing a flute.

pied_piper - do you know if that curved head joint affects the tone of the flute much? It seems that the longer head joint would flatten the tone of a flute.

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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper »

The curved headjoint is actually the same length as a straight one, so it should not sound flat in comparison to a straight headjoint. If intonation problems occur, it is usually because the curved headjoint may tend to rotate downward when pressed to the lips. If the headjoint turns, it causes the airstream to be blown at the wrong angle and that affects the intonation. That effect can be minimized by having the headjoint tenon tightened a bit so that it does not turn under normal playing pressure.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

musicaldad
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Thanks

Post by musicaldad »

Thank you, pied_piper, for your advice and opinion. Much appreciated.

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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper »

Your welcome. Since your daughter already has a flute, here's another option. Yamaha, which is a well respected instrument maker, sells a curved head separately.

http://www.musicarts.com/Yamaha-Curved- ... 442686.mac

You might consider that, but if your daughter's flute is not made by Yamaha, it may need to be fitted to her flute. Any good music repair shop can refit it for a small fee. If bought at a local store, they may fit at no charge. Of course, the other option is to trade in her current flute toward the purchase of one that includes a curved head. Some flutes come with both, and after she grows a bit, she can switch over to the straight headjoint.

So, there are some additional options you can consider.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

musicaldad
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Post by musicaldad »

Thanks for the link and the extra info, pied_piper. I think that the curved head is definitely the way to do. (Can't wait till my daughter and I can do our first woodwind duet!)

WalterMitty
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Post by WalterMitty »

There is another alternative.
When I was a kid, I used to play a plastic fife, among other instrument like trumpet and mini clarinet.
And I think this prepared me to play a flute, later.

I was playing trumpet in high school jazz band, and I tried a flute of my friend, on day.
And it was so natural that I was making better sound than my friend (who has been playing for a few years, at least) within a few day, and I was hooked.

I recently bought similar fife at eBay.
As it's very affordable and good quality, you may want to try.
http://cgi.ebay.com/New-Yamaha-Fife-YRF ... 563b186e94

It's easy, safe, very similar fingering, hard to break (compared to flute), and light weight. (For a very young kid, a flute can be too heavy.)
I think it's an ideal tool/toy for kids.
As it's an open hole model (but small enough tone holes for kids), it's easy to teach kids to feel the vibration on their finger tip (and thus they can develop sensibility and light touch fingering at the early stage) so that they can make easy transition to a flute (and open hole model, if so desired).

musicaldad
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Post by musicaldad »

Thanks for the tips. We'll be off to the city centre at the weekend.

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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper »

Musicaldad - Here's another model that is specifically designed with young/small children in mind: Jupiter Prodigy 313S

http://www.jupitermusic.com/jbi_instrum ... d=1&pId=50

I was not previously aware of this model, but it was discussed this week on another flute forum as a good flute for starting 7 year olds. It is a two-piece flute (no foot joint - it only goes down to D). This shortens the flute and the keys are specifically arranged to accomodate small hands, so it sounds like a really good option for your daughter.

Anyway, I HTH!!
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

musicaldad
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Post by musicaldad »

Thanks for this info too, which led me to a web site in the UK selling the same product (http://www.thefind.co.uk/query.php?quer ... ring+flute). New, I'm afraid it's a little pricey considering we've just bought the Yahama student flute and curved head. Oh how I wish I'd discovered this web site sooner! and that the flute teacher with whom my daughter had a handful of lessons had had a bit of foresight. I think a revised fingering model is the way to go, as her practice at the moment is a bit limited; and I do want her to get used to having the correct finger positions. I will look online for a second-hand example.

Thanks again for your tips and opinions.

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